July 5:

WORK began on a new pitch at Rodney Parade, with the Welsh Rugby Union promising that "flooding will be a thing of the past, and that the playing surface will "stable and consistent".

Waterlogging has plagued the Dragons, Newport RFC and Newport County AFC, which all play home fixtures at the venue, leading to postponements, abandonments and - particularly during the winter - sub-standard playing conditions when matches could go ahead.

The new hybrid Desso surface - a mixture of live grass and artificial fibres - was being installed as part of a programme of works that also included repairs and replacements to irrigation and drainage systems.

It was expected to be ready for use towards the end of August, with County playing away matches only until then.

July 5:

A FATHER-of-four described by doctors as a "miracle man" after surviving a motorcycle crash in May 2016, spoke of his determination to walk again.

Gareth Hughes, 36, formerly of Chepstow, suffered a triple back of his back, broken ribs and sternum, and punctured lungs in the crash between Chepstow and Usk.

The former doorman said he could now move his feet, and was in "no doubt" that he would walk again.

"If I didn't have the muscle mass I would have died straightaway," he said.

July 7:

A MAN who was told he would not last one month in his job with Newport Bus because of his autism, retired today - after 28 years' service.

Shaun Condon began work as a cleaner at the firm's Corporation Road, Newport, base in 1989, and in 1991 was featured in the Argus after his mother Daphne Condon contacted us to help raise awareness of the importance of work for people with learning difficulties.

On his retirement, Mrs Condon said it was thought he would not last in the job, but he had proved the doubters wrong. "I hope this will fight people's prejudices. Employers should give people with learning difficulties a chance because like Shaun, they'll prove they can do it," she said.

Mr Condon aid he would miss his work colleagues but was looking forward to retirement, and to spending time with his mum.

July 17:

BUILDING work began at the site of the £350m Grange University Hospital at Llanfrechfa Grange near Cwmbran.

The project, known until recent as the Specialist and Critical Care Centre, is designed to treat Gwent's sickest patients, and is set to open its doors in 2021.

Health secretary Vaughan Gething launched the building phase for a project that has been more than a decade in the planning, and said that it will "improve the quality of care for the very sickest patients."

July 21:

THE hated Severn Crossings tolls will be scrapped, Secretary of State for Wales Alun Cairns announced, with the plan described as "excellent news" by the Freight Transport Association.

Mr Cairns made an official announcement at a business stakeholders event in Newport, making concrete a commitment that had been included in all political parties' manifestos in the recent General Election.

The move will ease the burden on the thousands of car, van and lorry owners who use the Severn Crossings to and from Wales every day, though the Welsh Government was unimpressed at the announcement, given it was already a commitment, while Newport East MP Jessica Morden called for a timetable for returning the bridges to public ownership.

July 24:

THE mother of a boy who fell more than four storeys from a blocks of flats in Cwmbran in May, was overjoyed at seeing him back on his feet after fearing he would not walk again.

Kate Sherwin called 12-year-old son Callum Crowley "a miracle" for bouncing back after suffering life-threatening injuries.

She said Callum could walk with aids and swim, but still could not feel his feet, bladder and bowel. She was looking forward to having him home for a short while at the end of the month, for the first time since his fall, but acknowledged that his recovery still has a long way to go.

July 26:

A BLACKWOOD mum gave a vital gift to her 17-year-old daughter, by donating a kidney for transplant.

When Sharon Chaplin found she was a match for daughter Ceri - diagnosed with severe kidney problems in April 2016 - she immediately volunteered to be her donor.

Inspired, dad Christopher Chaplin then got involved in fundraising for Kidney Wales by signing up to run the Cardiff 10K.

Speaking of the family's pride at Ceri's resilience, he said: "It's something I had to do."

August 4:

CLADDING on the outside of three Newport tower blocks - installed as part of a £12.5 million refurbishment programme - was earmarked for removal and replacement after further fire safety tests were failed.

Samples of the cladding at Hillview, Gaer; Greenwood Tower, St Julians; and Milton Court, Ringland - owned by Newport City Homes (NCH) - had failed safety tests in the immediate aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire in London on June 14, which killed 71 people and injured dozens.

Those tests only involved the external cladding. But a second set of tests carried out by the Building Research Establishment involved all of the elements of the cladding system, and these were failed too.

No tower blocks in Wales have the same cladding as that used at Grenfell Tower, but the Welsh Government had ordered tests on aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding after the fire.

Residents of the three Newport blocks had raised concerns following the tragedy.

And in July NCH chief executive Ceri Doyle said it would now cost more to replace the ACM cladding (£2 million) than to replace the entire cladding system, which in 2013/14 had cost £1.8m across the three blocks.

Rob Lynbeck, executive director of operations at NCH stressed that the safety of residents "has always and will continue to be, a priority."

He added that NCH was "disappointed" with the test failures, and its focus was on making sure residents were safe and felt reassured.

The installation of sprinklers had already been approved and the aim was to complete that work as soon as possible, and fire wardens were being introducing at each tower block to carry out frequent inspections day and night, monitoring safety and making sure escape routes were clear.

NCH was also working with independent experts on a programme of work to remove and replace the cladding.

"This may take some time, but it's important we do this the right way. This will make sure any replacement cladding meets or exceeds fire safety standards," said Mr Lynbeck.

A letter sent to residents stressed that a test failure did not by itself mean that a building was unsafe, and that a number of failures would be required to create such a situation.

"That is not the case in our tower blocks," stated the letter.

Grenfell Tower's very public destruction, with the inferno played out on television screens across the UK and worldwide, caused concern in all parts of the country with cladded tower blocks.

Newport was not alone in having the cladding on its buildings tested. Nor was it alone in having that cladding fail those tests.

August 7:

MULTI-million pound plans to make Newport's Ringland area an "attractive, vibrant and modern" community were announced by Newport City Homes, following more than two years of consultation with residents.

New homes and the improvement of the shopping centre are at the heart of the project, with a focus on the Cot Farm - where 58 new homes are proposed - and Ringland Centre areas.

Residents at a viewing of the plans were positive about the proposals, but others were concerned at the potential loss of a green space, parking issues, and the disruption during building.

August 8:

PEOPLE who drove motorbikes across Newport's city footbridge were described by police as dangerous and selfish, after nearby residents warned that the problem was increasing.

Those living around the Millennium Walk said motorbikes on the bridge were a frequent sight, and that pedestrians and riders are in danger of being seriously injured.

Some called for the installation of narrowly-spaced bollards at the entrance to the bridge, to prevent motorbikes being brought onto it. Gwent Police warned that anyone caught would be prosecuted.

August 16:

A DISABLED woman from Abergavenny who needs round-the-clock care was told she was no longer eligible for full healthcare funding.

Emily Chicken, 21, lives with Rett Syndrome, a rare neurological disorder that has left her unable to speak or walk, and she needs 24/7 supervision.

Aneurin Bevan University Health Board ruled she no longer had a primary healthcare need, a decision upheld on appeal - leaving her parents Neil and Sara "very upset and very anxious for the future."

Mrs Chicken feared the level of care would not be at the same level if handed over to social services, and said: "I feel like there's no compassion."

The health board said people's needs are regularly reviewed as they can change over time.

August 23:

THE family of former rugby league player Scott Bessant called for answers 11 days after he was found lying in a lane in Abersychan with life-changing injuries.

Mr Bessant, 34, from Pontypool, remained in intensive care having suffered multiple fractures, with Gwent Police investigating after his discovery in the early hours of August 13.

He had left the Little Crown pub the previous day seemingly "happy and in high spirits" said brother-in-law Neil Chere, but there was "a long period of time" afterwards that cannot be accounted for.

"We want to find out what happened. We are looking for answers," said Mr Chere.

Mr Bessant's family later offered a £2,000 reward for information to help solve the puzzle of how he came by his injuries.

August 26:

PLANS were revealed for more than 300 homes - 268 houses and 41 flats - to be built at the site of the former University of South Wales campus at Caerleon.

They included the conversion into flats of the 100-year-old former main building, which was listed earlier this year, and the retention of the Kegie building for business use.

Green spaces such as the rugby field and woodland were also set to be retained.

August 26:

WHEN Squirt the miniature Shetland pony was born at Greenmeadow Community Farm in Cwmbran, his mother rejected him - so in stepped farm assistant Kirsty Harrison and her dog Mylo.

After surviving a difficult first couple of days of life, Squirt went to live for a few weeks with Miss Harrison in Garndiffaith, and was soon getting on famously, living with Mylo.

They became best mates, and when Squirt went back to live at the farm, their friendship continued, as Mylo goes to work with Miss Harrison so they were able to play together regularly.

August 26:

NEWPORT County played their first match on the new hybrid pitch at Rodney Parade, after a peripatetic start to the season while it bedded in - and a promising start to the campaign continued with a 4-1 victory against Chesterfield.

New striker Frank Nouble helped himself to a hat-trick, and he gave the £750,000 Desso playing surface the thumbs up.

"It's great and we're delighted. We're very lucky to have it, and we're very grateful," he said.

August 30:

PREMIER Inn "reluctantly" abandoned plans for a 60-bedroom hotel in the former Yates' wine bar building, at the corner of Cambrian Road and Queensway - five years after planning permission was granted.

The project was hit by multiple delays with an opening date in 2015 the first of three to be abandoned as asbestos had to be removed from the premises, and a row erupted with neighbouring nightclubs over noise issues.

Developers Richard Hayward properties fitted triple glazed windows, but Premier Inn finally withdrew stating: "It is unfortunate that the developer has ultimately not been able to overcome the barriers to (the project's) successful delivery."